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University of Iowa News Release

May 27, 2004

Tyson Reads Memoir About Racial Change On Prairie Lights Series June 8

Timothy B. Tyson, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin, will read from "Blood Done Sign My Name," his memoir of a tiny North Carolina town coming to terms with racial change in the '50s and '60s, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 8, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The free reading will be broadcast on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series, hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the internet at

Critic Jerry McCulley wrote, "When he was but 10 years old, Tim Tyson heard one of his boyhood friends in Oxford, N.C. excitedly blurt the words that were to forever change his life: 'Daddy and Roger and 'em shot 'em a nigger!'

"The cold-blooded street murder of young Henry Marrow by an ambitious, hot-tempered local businessman and his kin in the spring of 1970 would quickly fan the long-flickering flames of racial discord in the proud, insular tobacco town into explosions of rage and street violence. It would also turn the white Tyson down a long, troubled reconciliation with his Southern roots that eventually led to a professorship in African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- and this profoundly moving, if deeply troubling personal meditation on the true costs of America's historical racial divide..."

"The details are often chilling: Oxford simply closed its public recreation facilities rather than integrate them; Marrow's accused murderers were publicly condemned, yet acquitted; the very town's newspaper records of the events -- and indeed the author's later account for his graduate thesis -- mysteriously removed from local public records. But Tyson's own impassioned personal history lessons here won't be denied; they're painful, yet necessary reminders of a poisonous American racial legacy..."

Tyson's book "Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power," won the James Rawley Prize and was co-winner of the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize. He was coeditor, with David S. Cecelski, of "Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and its Legacy," which won the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.

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